This blog began through a NIFA grant for Missouri Beginning Farmers. It continues today as a way for beginning farmers to learn about new ideas and to hear about upcoming events of interest. It is maintained by Debi Kelly (email@example.com).
As an Extension Associate with the University of Missouri, I work with beginning farmers, small farms, alternative agriculture and organic farming. I am also the Co-coordinator for the Missouri Sustainable Agriculture and Research (SARE) Education Professional Development Program (PDP).
Yesterday and today, about 20 new and beginning farmers got a good dose of information for raising berries in Missouri. Several of those in attendance had just started out this spring with brambles – including raspberries – and were looking for information to get their plants productive.
University of Missouri Extension horticulturalist Patrick Byers led participants through an overview of brambles (blackberries and raspberries), blueberries, strawberries, gooseberries and other fruit crops. We learned that most farms growing berries in MO are pretty small (less than 10 acres), that berries are often paired with other enterprises, and that most are direct-marketed. During the overview and discussion, it seemed to me that blueberries were the most tolerant of our Missouri climate – but that they also require significant initial investment and very good management of soil fertility.
The day continued with a great overview of different berry crops – and lots of questions! During some of the hottest hours of the afternoon, we took a field trip to Jefferson Farms and saw real berries in production.
Questions abounded about pests, stresses to plants, yield and everything else. Today, the topic was marketing – what’s the best channel for marketing berries, what kind of money are we talking about, what are alternative markets. The day finished with a tour of Pick and Pick Farm.
One more workshop is scheduled this week in Springfield on Friday and Saturday. We’ll be covering growing produce for local markets with an all-day session on Friday, and visits to the Springfield Farmers’ Market and area farms on Saturday. Click here for more information on registering. (by Mary Hendrickson)